How to describe the first day of the 2015 NCAA Tournament? All five Texas teams are out, three Big 12 teams lost, two #14 seeds (Georgia State and UAB) advanced while the favorites to reach the Final Four like Kentucky and Villanova, unlike other high ranked programs, didn’t run into too much trouble.
#14 UAB beat #3 Iowa State 60-59: The Cyclones came into the tournament as the conference tournament champions and riding a winning streak filled with comebacks and drama. Another close game didn’t go their way, losing to a team that got four points from William Lee in the final minute to turn the game around and cause the major upset.
#14 Georgia State beat #3 Baylor 57-56: Another big time Big 12 team loses, this time due to a 3-pointer by R.J. Hunter (16 points) with 2.7 seconds left in the game to win it. Georgia State finished the game on an incredible 13-0 run to come back from the verge of elimination.
The Close Calls
#3 Notre Dame beat #14 Northeastern 69-65: Things are never easy for the Fighting Irish in the tournament, and the Huskies made things very difficult in the final 37 seconds by making it a two point game. Zach Auguste showing ice in his veins with clutch free throws and 25 points kept the favorites on the march.
#11 UCLA beat #6 SMU 60-59: The game ended on a very controversial goaltending call that gave the Bruins the semi-upset win following a huge game by Bryce Alford with 27 points, helping his dad take some heat off his back.
#10 Ohio State beat #7 VCU 75-72 in overtime: Not really a surprise when a Big Ten team beats a mid-major, but Ohio State struggled all game long, rallying back from a 12-point deficit behind 28 points from D’Angelo Russell.
#8 Cincinnati beat #9 Purdue 66-65 in overtime: Troy Caupain scored a dramatic layup at the buzzer to send the game into overtime and in it managed to hang on to their small lead with Vince Edwards missing a desperation 3-pointer to try and tie the game in the end.
#4 North Carolina beat #13 Harvard 67-65: A nice comeback in the end from Harvard made things interesting, but the work of Justin Jackson (14 points) and Marcus Paige (12 points) kept the Tar Heels on the good side of getting upset.
#8 North Carolina State beat #9 LSU 66-65: Beejay Anya one handed shot with his left hand, a semi-hook, gave The Wolfpack the dramatic win, leaving LSU with just 0.1 seconds to try and save the day, which they obviously couldn’t.
#5 Arkansas beat #12 Wofford 56-53: After tying the game at 53-53 with 1:55 left on the clock, Wofford failed to score in what remained of the game while Alandise Harris’ 3 points gave the Razorbacks the win, led by 20 points from Michael Qualls.
And the results we expected
#2 Arizona beat #15 Texas Southern 93-72: An easy game for the Wildcats, taking a 21-point lead at halftime to the end, led by 23 points from Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and 22 from Stanley Johnson.
#6 Butler beat #11 Texas 56-48: Bad basketball from both teams, but Butler settled down in the final minutes to rally past the Longhorns with 20 points from Kellen Dunham.
#6 Xavier beat #11 Ole Miss 76-57: Matt Stainbrook with 20 points and Dee Davis with 17 points took care of a tired looking Ole Miss team with ease.
#1 Villanova beat #16 Lafayette 93-52: The most impressive win of the night belongs to the Big East champions, getting six players to score in double figures, led by Dylan Ennis with 16 points.
#5 Utah beat #12 Stephen F. Austin 57-50: Utah are playing bad basketball right now, but it was enough to pull through against another losing Texas school, getting 18 points and a perfect day from the field from Jakob Poeltl.
#1 Kentucky beat #16 Hampton 79-56: Up to 35-0 without too many problem, led by 21 points from Karl-Anthony Towns.
#4 Georgetown beat #13 Eastern Washington 84-74: A team that is often upset in the early goings of the tournament started strong and managed to hang on to their lead, led by 25 points from the fantastic D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera.